Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Shaker Village Trial Report
Paul and Leeann Tucker hosted the Shaker Village SDT this past weekend at the Shakertown Historic Site in Harrodsburg, KY. It was a beautiful location for the trial. The trial courses were set on the face of a large hill with the outrun being about 360 yards for Open and Nursery, with a very long drive and crossdrive. The sheep were Pat Greenwell's big Suffolks (mostly, a few white faces were thrown in too), the same sheep used for many trials in the area, and the same flock used the 1st 2 days on the novice field at the Bluegrass SDT. They're crafty sheep. Many groups will behave pretty well if treated right. The dog has to stay with the sheep and not let them get a chance to take off, because they certainly will if they sense an opportunity. Some groups just run no matter what but at least they're in the minority. Penning is very uneven unfortunately. Some groups raced to get in the pen, while others had an individual that was just plain un-pennable. Overall, they're a good challenge, and very fit and healthy. A more even flock would make this an even better trial, but it's a challenge to find flocks to rent for trials and these are mostly workable. Paul and LeeAnn and friends worked tirelessly to get this trial organized and have it go off as well as it did, and i'm planning to return next year. I hope they'll consider a double lift Final, as the field just begs for it. The weather was good and bad. It started nice, then rain came in, then downpours overnight friday night into saturday morning. It cleared off late in the morning saturday but got very windy. Sunday was gorgeous.
The Open trials were won both days by my friend Christine Henry with her Bess. It's quite an accomplishment to win a 70 dog Open trial, but to win it 2 days in a row, wow. She even had to compete in a runoff for the Sunday win, as she and Annie O'Toole both had scores of 96. The competition was tight, the running very good.
On to my critters -- In the Open: Spottie was my first up on saturday and had a bit of trouble getting a hold on her sheep. She wasn't flanking really well and we just never quite got them lined out. We got around the course but only scored fair. Zac was next and had a very nice run. He had a good group that was willing to settle down and walk and he handled them really well, ending up 4th. Jet was my last one and she ran extremely well around the course, well enough to overcome losing a few points for pulling up a bit short at the top, and ended up 9th. Sunday, Spottie ran very well and ended up 12th. Zac and Jet both had difficult draws and neither scored well enough to place.
The real excitement for me for the weekend was Moss' trial debut. He ran in ProNovice twice on friday and handled the course and sheep nicely i thought. On his first run, i sent him left and he was going out a bit tight, so i stopped and redirected him, which he took extremely well. He was a little tight at the top, i think because of the setout person. He was under good control on his fetch and handled the sheep very well. I didn't want to over handle him on the drive since this was his first trial run, so let him miss the drive panels. Mostly i wanted him to have a good experience and to feel good about the job he did, and for us to be working together. His next run was a bit better and he ended up in 6th place. His sister May had her debut as well, and had a beautiful run to tie for 2nd place in the first runs.
When we arrived on thursday evening and i saw the PN course, my thought immediately was that Moss needed more room to stretch out and show his stuff, so since he'd done reasonably well in PN, i entered him in the Nursery for saturday and sunday. The Nursery course was the full Open course without the shed - a 360 yard outrun and a very long drive (i was told it was a 250 yard crossdrive on sunday). I might have reconsidered if i'd realized before entering that they weren't pulling the outrun in! Actually, i felt pretty confident Moss could manage it with some help, and he did. On saturday, he started coming in on his outrun about where the sheep had been set for PN. That wasn't unexpected, and especially since he'd never run out more than about 200 yards before. I doubt he knew sheep could even be that far away! With some lookbacks and redirects, he crossed over but did manage to get to the top end of the field. From that point it was quite a decent run, good control, good lines, with Moss listening very well. We missed the drive away panel but again, i didn't want to manage him too much out there this soon. He ended up 4th, one spot out of earning a qualifying leg for the National Nursery Finals. On sunday, i sent him right and he was going out pretty okay but a bit tight, so i stopped him and gave him a little redirect twice to make sure he'd land well and not spook the sheep - again he took this very well, bending out like an old pro. When he got to the top, this was a different sort of group of sheep from the day before, more of a running group, and needed handled differently. Where saturday's group was more willing to settle and be pushed a bit, this one wanted to run and it was more about catching them and guiding them than about pushing and guiding. Most of the fetch was offline as Moss was trying to figure this out, but by the beginning of the drive he had it and the whole drive was really pretty, very nice lines and good pace and control, making both panels. He ended up 4th again, with one very happy and proud handler. I was very pleased with how he handled himself through the runs, improving every time and never losing his cool, and gaining in confidence with every stride. He's just turned 17 months old, has only worked at a couple of places, and had never run out more than about 200 yards before, much less done a drive that totaled over 400 yards. He's still got a lot of growing up to do, but the future is looking bright for Moss!
All in all, it was a great trial and a fun weekend. To top it all off, it was Derby weekend. Being Louisville born and raised, it was a real treat to sneak back to the camper off and on saturday to catch the all day Derby coverage on the TV. A nice walk down memory lane for me.
Here's a bit of video of Moss' first PN run - the other runs were much nicer but the weather wasn't cooperating for videotaping!
(Try the "watch in high quality" option just under the screen if you have a high speed connection - it looks great)